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The Ancient Baths
Inferences ( 2 of 3)
Julissa Mendez, Darren Peterson & Erna Schas
Ital333, Prof. Barbara
Nucci, March 1999
Also in the same area, we found some
stucco decorations and mosaic floors that hint at the opulence of the villa.
The stucco decorations are well preserved and we were able to see that
they were not cast impressions but that they were carefully carved by hand.
We learned that they are duplicates of pearl framed medallions, each containing
a single figure. The images portrayed on the medallions include swans
in flight and cherubs.
Events in Italy
BC - 1300 AD
AD - 1998 AD
tiled mosaic floors we saw were not quite as well
preserved as the stucco decoration, however, they are
still quite beautiful. The decorative layout
consists of three rows, each with three rectangular
panels. Each panel is framed by an braided pattern and
the outside border is made up of geometric patterns.
The mosaic has a particularly elaborate composition that
is similar to that of the Basilica di Aquileia (which is also found in the archeological park) and it was
most likely created in the 2nd century AD.
Descending the staircase to a lower level
we found ourselves in the area known as the baths of Venus. The area
is characterized by buildings that utilize the natural hot springs.
They are called the baths of Venus, because of the elegant stucco figures,
on the vaults of one group of rooms. This area has two different
groups of buildings. One is made up of a series of rooms, and an
early bath, that date to the later part of the Augustan period. The
other buildings, from the Hadrianic period, are made up of a group of thermal
baths which are adjacent to the earlier structures. One of the most
spectacular buildings from the Hadrianic period (2nd century AD) is the
Temple of Venus. It was once a magnificent domed structure that is approximately
25 meters in diameter. The dome is no longer intact. Today,
as a result of the construction of the modern street Via Lucullo, it appears
to be isolated from the rest of the complex in the port area of the modern
|| We noted that the cold rooms in the Baths of
Venus area were situated on the north side of the main complex, while the
thermally heated areas were towards the south. The central
pool of the frigidarium is still recognizable today. Some of the
buildings in this area date back to the 2nd half of the 1st century BC
and are considered to be some of the most ancient structures at Baia.
Next, at the center of the complex, we examined
the baths of Sosandra. The area takes its name from a statue,
found on the upper peristyle, which is a likeness of Aphrodite Sosandra.
(It is presently housed in the archaeological museum, in Naples.) It is
a Roman copy of the Greek original that was created in the 5th century
BC by the sculptor Calamides. A large portion of the lower terrace
has not been excavated and there is much debate regarding its usage.
A clear subdivision into four terraces can be observed. Each one serves
as the substructure of the buildings located on the next level up.
The upper terrace housed the servantís quarters, the second one housed
the actual living quarters with a series of rooms along a large peristyle,
the third terrace has a semicircular structure that has been interpreted
as a theater, or possible a nymphaeum, finally on the lowest level there
is a large rectangular area that may have been a large pool or possibly
a garden area.
At least two building phases are indicated
by the frescoes located in the southwestern corner of the large rectangular
room on the lower level. This is an important example of how two
different chronological periods can be determined by the examination of
the fragments of artwork that still remain today. The first are characterized
by the "Egyptianizing" style of the mid 1st century AD, while the coarser
style of the later frescoes place them in the 2nd century AD.
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